A plane crashed into a mountain in the Himalayas while trying to land at an airport in northern Nepal on Monday, killing 15 people and critically injuring six.

It was carrying two pilots and a flight attendant — all Nepalese — along with 16 Indians and two Danish citizens, both of whom survived, officials said.

Television footage showed the Danes being taken inside a hospital in the nearby city of Pokhara, the man being led on foot and the woman crying in pain as she was carried on a stretcher.

The plane was turning around to land at Jomsom Airport when it crashed, said Laxmi Raj Sharma, chief government administrator in the area.   

The wrecked aircraft was in pieces but did not catch fire. Sharma said the initial investigation indicated it might have had technical problems.

Rescue was swift because the plane crashed just few metres from an army camp at Jomsom.  

The Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet said it spoke to the Danish passengers by phone at the hospital and identified them as Emilie Joergensen and Andreas Rasch.

"We were thrown around. The seats were unfastened and we were squeezed between seats and bodies," it quoted Joergensen as saying.

She said they had to climb over "hands and arms" to get out of the plane. "I think it was easy for us to get out because we sat in the back and were closest to the exit," Joergensen said.  

She said they were on their way to Jomsom where they planned to go trekking.   

Sharma said survivors were flown to the nearby city of Pokhara for treatment.   

Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai issued a statement expressing condolences at the deaths of the 15 people.   

The airport is a gateway to a popular destination for trekkers and for Hindu pilgrims on their way to the revered Muktinath temple. It is about 200 kilometres northwest of the capital, Kathmandu.   

The Dornier aircraft belonged to the local Agni Air company.